The UW-Madison Ultimate Frisbee club was founded in the 1977. Upon creation, the team immediately began to establish a great winning tradition with 9 sectional championships and 5 final four finishes at regional play. Between 1977 and 1988, the team had an overall record of 347 wins and 189 losses.
The Dave McClain Athletic Facility, opened in 1988, offered the club an opportunity to cleat-up during the winter season. Coincidence or not, it wasn’t until after 1988 that the club first qualified for Nationals.
In spring of 1994, the “Hodags” team name was implemented, and has been held to this date. Tryouts were conducted for the first time in the fall of 1988.
Since 2001, Wisconsin Hodags have 3 National titles, and 5 Finals appearances.
With the head of an ox, feet of a bear, back of dinosaur, and tail of an alligator – the Hodag is a ferocious beast which resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. The mythical legend eventually landed the Hodag as the mascot for Rhinelander, WI – as well as the source for a hilarious children’s book – The Terrible Hodag.
The Hodag has proven time and time again its resilience in fighting through such towering hurdles. While the warm weather squads rest on their sunny laurels, the Hodag is gritting its teeth and sharpening its claws. It visualizes the next tourney weekend when it will have the momentary pleasure of being released from its snowy cage to explode on whatever unsuspecting team is unfortunate enough to line up against it.
The Hodags are known for traveling to more tournaments (and playing more games) than any other team in the country. After being contained on the track for most of the winter months, the team is physically and mentally prepared to repeatedly exert themselves around the country, whether it is in Tampa, Austin, Palo Alto, or Boulder.
The Hodag program has, over time, learned to embrace the frigid winters of Wisconsin. After the fall season’s exhaustive tryout process and several tourneys, the focus turns directly towards conditioning, weight lifting, and integrating all the new players into the Hodag system. The workout coordinator begins licking his chops in anticipation for the “hardest training regimen ever” (which strangely enough seems to be the case every year). Everyone is assigned a “buddy” who they will lift with, talk strategy with, and have in their ear for the remainder of the year.
Players on the Hodags expect to be actively getting in better shape six out of seven days during the winter months. A typical week may include three lifts, two track workouts, one plyometric workout, and one agility workout. Occasionally, a stairs or pool workout will be thrown into the mix. Additionally, once a week, Wisconsin Ultimate is granted time to use the indoor field turf in the McClain Center. This time is never taken for granted, and practice is often scheduled down to the minute.
The biggest advantage the Hodags have, though, is found in the team’s catch phrase, “Hodag Love”. Put simply, the Hodags just plain care more, both for their teammates and their team’s goals. Everyone is totally committed to working as hard as they can for their teammates, to never have regrets come the end of May.
The Hodags aren’t just one or two star players, they aren’t a passing fad; they are a proven system. From the youngest rookie bursting with potential and desire, to the oldest alumnus who wishes he were still in uniform, the Hodags are a family who will continue to write their stories into ultimate history for many years to come.